What the drunk uncle from ‘Family Ties’ can teach us about success

When I was a kid, I watched “Family Ties”. Yeah, I’m that old… or young. Whatever.

One of the occasionally recurring characters on “Family Ties” was deadbeat Uncle Ned — a guy who struggled with alcoholism and periodically ran afoul of the law. The actor who portrayed him was character actor who had only started his on-screen acting career about 3 years earlier.

Recognize him?

Yeah, it’s Tom Hanks. By the time this aired (in 1983 or 1984), Hanks had made appearances in episodes of “Happy Days”, “Taxi”, and “The Love Boat”, and he had a regular role in a show called “Bosom Buddies”.

And before all that, his very first on-screen appearance (according to IMDb.com) was in a 1980 horror movie called “He Knows You’re Alone”. Check out his appearance here:

For his role in “He Knows You’re Alone”, Hanks was paid a whopping $800.

Today, Hanks earns a little more than $800 when he makes movies.

Eight years after his on-screen debut, Hanks brought home $1.7 million from his role in “Big”. And it just went up from there. With the exception of his work in “Toy Story” and its sequels, he consistently makes $15 million to $20 million (or more from gross profits and participation) in his movies.

I find Tom Hanks’ success story inspiring and instructional. Here’s why:

  • Hanks is just a regular guy who is good at what he does. He’s not famous because he has an outrageous personality or rugged good looks or muscles that stick out everywhere. He’s an average guy but he’s a great actor. (Interesting note: In a Vanity Fair interview, Hanks himself admitted that his acting wasn’t good in the beginning but he improved over time). I think I’m a regular guy. That tells me that talent lasts, and it inspires me to constantly get better.
  • Hanks is now known for (and made a ton of money from) his dramatic roles (and sometimes has a romantic comedy roles). But he wasn’t always known for that. Throughout the 80’s, he was a goofy guy who usually got the comedic roles. He did okay there but he has successfully reinvented himself as a respected dramatic actor. We all go through different phases in our work. The successful ones are willing to reinvent themselves until they find something that works.
  • Hanks slogged for more than a decade before he achieved what most of us would call “success” — he worked tirelessly in live theater and then on television shows and movies. Hard work and thankless sweat are a prerequisite to success. If you want success but aren’t willing to work for it, success will elude you.

Success doesn’t land on your doorstep. You need to work for it. You need to get up every day and go do whatever it is that you do and you need to get better at it.

If you’re a real estate professional or a financial advisor (or any other type of entrepreneur for that matter), Hanks’ story can inspire you. There are calls to make and relationships to build and paperwork to do. I can sometimes feel like like a thankless, slogging grind.

But grind it out everyday! Get better everyday! Stop wondering how to be successful and instead start thinking about how to do more of the hard work you need to do. That’s the key to real success!

Published by Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and other books.

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